Revolution of April 25, 1974
The Revolution of April 25, 1974 overthrew the dictatorial regime of the Estado Novo, in force since 1933, beginning the implementation of a democratic regime. The revolutionary atmosphere that was felt in the streets encouraged the participation of artists, in an explosion of graphic art. Thus, after the revolution, the mural paintings and posters linked to this political transformation are remarkable. In a euphoric aesthetic trait, artists and the population took on an intervention role through art, expressing their voice, which was once suppressed.
Starting from the artistic manifestations during the 25th of April 1974 until the subsequent transformations, we will understand the repercussions and the true impact of the revolution on Portuguese art.
Artistic manifestations during the revolution
The impact of the revolution brought democratization to access to culture and art, but also contributed, in artistic terms, to the discovery of new artistic expressions and the manifestation of techniques once monopolized by the government. This is the case with posters, which at this revolutionary time were a form of expression of great impact and strength. With distinct aesthetic language, these had a greater purpose: communication. Thus, artists end up submitting to the new canons of revolutionary representation to the detriment of this cause.
Delacroix on the 25th of April in Athens in Nikias Skapinakis, 1975
At work Delacroix on the 25th of April in Athens, the artist Nikias Skapinakis portrays the deposition of the dictatorial regime representing the peculiarities of the Portuguese people, although deeply inspired by the famous painting about the French revolution, Liberty leading the people by Eugène Delacroix. In the center of this work, he places freedom on a plinth, in order to demonstrate its superiority in relation to the other figures involved. This robust woman, barefoot and with her chest half uncovered, carries a gun and a red flag, guiding the people forward, towards their independence. On the Portuguese flag, red represents the blood of those who served in the name of the nation; however, during the revolution, this color takes on another meaning due to the carnations, which were placed in the soldiers' rifles. Thus, in an object, the artist represents and recalls the lives lost for freedom and the impact of red carnations in this historical episode. On the left-hand plinth, this revolutionary icon is again depicted with two men lifting the flowers. On the plinth to the right, two people with their hands in the air are portrayed in a movement of dance and joy. The remaining figures are represented in a happy way, raising their hand with the symbol of peace.
Poetry is in the street: April 25, 1974 in Vieira da Silva, 1974
Invited by the poet Sophia de Mello Breyner, Vieira da Silva create the posters Poetry is in the street: April 25, 1974, about the moment of the revolution, when the population takes to the streets with red carnations. The Portuguese artist's remarkable abstract traits demonstrate her intention to favor the aesthetic function of the poster, to the detriment of communication. During the Estado Novo period, the artist did not live in Portugal due to nationality conflicts — hers and her husband’s, Árpad-Szenes. He is a figure who actively participates in this act of political change through his art. However, he only returned to Portugal ten years after the revolution.
Art in Portugal after April 25, 1974
The revolution of April 25, 1974 is a landmark event, not only in political and social terms, but also artistically. With the opening of the country to the outside world, there is greater freedom of expression and perception of world artistic production. In the artistic field, late in relation to Europe and the United States, conceptual art is discovered. In a moment of transition and uncertainty, there were teaching spaces (Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra and Cooperativa Árvore do Porto), galleries (Judite Dacruz in Lisbon, Ogiva in Óbidos, Quadrum in Lisbon and Module in Porto), and events (Bienal in Vila Nova de Cerveira, Performance Encounters in Almada, Porto and Torres Vedras) that were essential for the cultural development of Portugal. At this point, several names emerged, but the careers that were consolidated, critically and commercially in these years of crisis, are the previously established artists: Júlio Pomar, Paula Rego, Mário Cesariny, Cruzeiro Seixas, João Cutileiro It is José Guimaraes.
Pianist in José de Guimarães, 1974
During this decade, Júlio Pomar he dedicates himself to collages, oval compositions, erotic themes where he reveals an expressive and rigorous gesture. Paula Rego he also creates some collages, but maintains his cruel imagery with expressive turbulence. Mário Cesariny It is Cruzeiro Seixas they continue in the same surrealist language that they never abandoned, successfully gaining greater visibility. José Guimaraes seeks inspiration in the African imagination, in different authors, works and famous art themes and starts to work in series. It is also at this stage that the Portuguese artist creates an essential formal vocabulary for his production in the following decade.
Statue of King D.Sebastião in João Cutileiro, 1973
The sculpture of this period is drawn, ironically by order of the Estado Novo, the statue of King D.Sebastião de João Cutileiro, due to its striking artistic language and the way it questions the current political regime and its cultural policies. the works of João Cutileiro laid the foundations for the following decades, being one of the outstanding artists for the Portuguese artistic scene.After the revolution, political stability arrived and with it the economic growth that guaranteed the formation of a middle class. If there is purchasing capacity, the market expands with the opening of new galleries in Lisbon and Porto. Thus, the democratization of culture and art in Portugal brought, in artistic terms, the discovery of new artistic expressions, the opening of new exhibition spaces and the growth of the art market.